On his radio show today Glenn Beck pulled out scripture to once again make the claim that God is a right wing Republican. Beck and company quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, and said, “That is the problem with government welfare and everything else, get a damn job.” Beck claimed that there are plenty of jobs, but people don’t want to do them.
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
Beck and crew cited 2 Thessalonians 3:10 in the King James Version of the Bible, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Beck used this as a jumping off point to say, “That is the point. That is everybody’s problem with government handouts. Get a damn job. Now if there’s no jobs, I am there to help you out, but there’s nothing beneath anybody, no job beneath anybody, no job beneath anybody, there’s not, there’s not, and that’s a problem with humility and that leads to destruction. That is the answer. That is the problem with government welfare and everything else, get a damn job. If you’re not willing to work, then I am not willing to give it to you. The government is, and that’s the problem. That’s the difference between the government enslaving people and people giving charity.”
What Beck used here was some classic social Darwinist thinking. His first premise is that people are poor or unemployed because they don’t want to work, therefore the poor or unemployed and strictly to blame for their own circumstances. Glenn Beck feels free to lecture others that they should take any job as he sits in his comfy chair in his air conditioned studio making $30 million a years. Beck assumes that there are plenty of jobs, but people refuse to do them.
Beck also invoked the classic conservative mantra that government assistance corrupts the character of those who receive it. Beck and company oppose universal health care because it would lead to a corruption of the American work ethic. It is the myth that government assistance encourages people not to work, but the welfare reforms passed by the Republican led Congress and then president Bill Clinton place work requirements on welfare recipients, so Beck pulled out an old right wing wives tale that has no bearing on today.
In his classic work, The War Against The Poor, Herbert Ganz discussed the use of labels to stigmatize and stereotype the poor, and this is exactly what Beck did. In these current economic times, many people who have never needed assistance before are being labeled as irresponsible and deviant by Glenn Beck, simply because they lost their jobs. Beck’s claim that God opposes government aid is a theological smokescreen designed to make an extreme right wing ideology more palatable.
Glenn Beck ignored the fact that the government is obligated to protect the people that have empowered it. These protections extend to government assistance in hard times. Beck is trying to make the God versus government argument, but this is not a nation guided by the Bible. Our republic’s principles can be found in our Constitution, which was written to protect against the very same type of theocracy, which Glenn Beck dreams of establishing.